Currently you cannot beat the practicality of importing queens. Arguments against are only philisophical or conservational.
Setting the scene:
Whilst we may have an average of 3 hives each put yourself in the position of a bee farmer who makes a living from selling nucs and supplying queens. Any business requires a good supply chain, consistency to supply the needs of its customers.
- Early season supply does not meet demand
- EU queens are cheaper and available a month earlier than UK queens
- Superior pedigree and experience in selection
- Lack of remote locations.
- We don’t have any legislation to limit islands to specific breeders
- Small beekeepers with supply are not online
Some loaded questions:
- Where is the importation border? We are a United Kingdom, so imports from Northern Ireland are fine right? The climate there is very different from Kent.
- What are we protecting by not letting our bees mingle? Their future?
- Bees solve their problems with polyandry (Delaplane said this at the last conference)
- Human control removed variation in the population, by importing queens we are addding it back in. Why should a black bee be conserved
- Is keeping the genepool diverse not the nature of our polyandrous bees?
- Importing increases the risk of disease transmission, in a truely globalized world the only solution is a closed borders approach such as on the Isle of Man. Eventually disease spreads… I think this pandemic has taught us as much, so why fight it?
I do not think I understand the motivations of our members enough to see what they do. Do they get a queen from another of their own colonies, their friend, another beekeeper in the association, from a website
BIBBA said to me that if there were supply of local queens they’d know about it and they’d have a list where people could get them.